Call Us: (941) 584-8687

Posts Tagged ‘rodent control’

Genetically-Modified Rats: Great Idea or Ecosystem Disaster?

Genetically Modified RatsNot too long ago, any type of genetic manipulation was the stuff of science fiction books and movies like Jurassic Park and Gattaca. And while we’re still decades away from the human genome being selected or edited, the same is not true for the lab rats of the world. That is to say, literally, the rats that are in the lab.

The experimental technology, known as Gene Driving, was first developed to try and eliminate malaria carrying mosquitoes.

If you remember your high school biology lessons, you’re familiar with the fact that there are two sets of genetic markers that make up each strand of DNA – one from the father and one from the mother. To simplify, when an egg is fertilized, the two strands of 23 alleles combine to form 23 pairs of chromosomes to form the DNA of every cell in a human being.

And the system works similarly for other mammals, just in different quantities.

Gene Driving interrupts the natural genetic process by overriding the natural biological processes with engineered genes that cause the rats to have, instead of shared genetics between their father and mother rats – they only have the mother’s genes.

If all rats were female, they couldn’t reproduce. And if this sounds familiar, it’s a variation on the method Michael Crichton proposed in his dinosaur novels. After 4 movies and a 5th on the way, I think we all know how that ended. (Hey, weren’t mosquitoes part of that too?)

Life Finds a Way?

And while no one is worried that rats are going to escape from their island and eat the humans, there are some in the scientific community that are concerned about other consequences when “Life finds a way.”

To put it more specifically, they’re concerned that such genetically engineered organisms could have an irreversible impact on the ecosystem. It’s not just about genetically engineering sterility or reducing aggression. It’s more that they’re concerned that we are fiddling with nature without fully comprehending what the consequences could be.

And while some are calling for a complete halt to all of the research related to gene driving, the researchers who developed the process point out that completely abandoning the research means that we may never understand it, and it could be a very effective way to cut down on several disease-carrying and crop-devouring insects and rodents.

Unlike the typical science fiction B movie plot, however, the original researchers are adamant that they need to better understand the animals and the ultimate result of their existence in nature before releasing them from the lab.

The next step in the process, they say, would be to develop an engineered gene drive that is self-limiting. Instead of taking out a whole species, it could temporarily slow generational growth – for example, stop rabbits from breeding, allowing the population to be more easily controlled.

The hope that these scientists in Scotland cling to is that we can find a better way to try and control the spread of harmful parasitic viruses and diseases that cause things like malaria and dengue and zika virus. It is becoming harder to develop vaccines and the diseases themselves mutate to be resistant to treatments, while at the same time their transmission partners (the mosquitoes) become more resilient to traditional pesticides.

Like it or not, and despite the moral implications, we might find ourselves having to develop mutations to fight nature’s mutations in order to survive.

Luckily, we have a solution – for the mosquito problem at least – that doesn’t require  potentially harmful pesticides. Our exclusive No Bite Zones have turned biting, blood-seeking female mosquitoes into vegans, from Punta Gorda to Lakewood Ranch, and lets them pass it on to their offspring. Suddenly your rainy season isn’t as buggy and the mosquitoes get to fulfill their God-given purpose of pollinating. Give us a call today to find out more!

Pest of the Month: Rats!

Pest of the Month-RatsWas there ever a mammal more reviled and maligned than the rat? First to leave the ship, the nickname for anyone who acts in their own interest at the expense of others, accused of spreading disease (even when they don’t). Even animal rights activists don’t get as riled up when they’re used for scientific testing as they do about other, cuter animals. In fact, any sympathy they get is mostly from that Pixar film.

And to be sure, some of the criticism is well-earned. They are well-known to be scavengers. They have helped circulate some diseases – 35 according to the CDC – in populated areas, just not the Black Plague. That particular outbreak was likely caused by another rodent renowned for evil – or maybe not – the Gerbil. Rats eat their own feces – apparently for its nutritional value. They also can’t control their bladders. As they walk, they dribble urine everywhere.

A Problem of Perception

So it might surprise you to find out that rats are actually some of the cleanest animals around. They can spend several hours a day on their grooming. They’re actually less likely to catch or transmit diseases than dogs and cats!

They’re also incredibly loyal, loving, and community-oriented animals. A single rat will get despondent if left without companionship. By the same token, they suffer some of the same social complications as humans do – being bullied, succumbing to peer pressure, often eating new things just because all the other rats are doing it.

But as a community – known as a mischief – they care for their sick and injured, have dreams while sleeping, and make laughing sounds when they play.

It’s rumored that both Queen Victoria and Peter Rabbit creator Beatrix Potter kept rats as pets. And along with Laika & Ham the Astrochimp, one of the first mammals in space was a brown rat, launched by France.

Clone Wars?

When scientists started seriously studying genetic diversity and cloning, they began by inbreeding rats, brother to sister, for 300 generations. The resulting rats were 99% genetically identical, even closer than we’ve yet been able to achieve with cloning.

One of the reasons that rats seem to be everywhere is because of their mating schedule. A female rat can mate as many as – wait for it – 500 times the 6 hour period that she’s in the mood. And she gets feeling that way about every 3.5 weeks. So in the average rats lifespan of 2-3 years, she can produce somewhere between 4 and 18 THOUSAND descendants.  That might explain how they originated in Asia and Australia but conquered the rest of the world long before man did.

Despite that, there are 7 species of rats on the Endangered Species list.

Smarter Than They Look

Their eyesight is poor, so rats use their whiskers and scent organs in their feet to find their way around. Rats are more intelligent than rabbits, hamsters, mice, gerbils and guinea pigs. They can learn their own name and once they’ve solved a maze, they never forget which way to go. Maybe we should harness them for our GPS’s!

Did you know rats are trained to detect land mines without setting them off? They’ve even trained some to drag cable through walls for electricians.

Recent Reputation

Rats weren’t always a harbinger of doom. In Rome they were considered good luck; they’re one of the more positive signs on the Chinese Zodiac, and to this day there’s a Hindu temple in India where pilgrims come to worship and feed the rats.

Other Fun Facts:

  • Rats chew through everything in an attempt to wear down their long teeth that never stop growing. You might say that they’re in a perpetual teething period.
  • A rat can go longer than a camel without having a drink of water.
  • Rats’ tails help them to balance while climbing and regulate their body temperature since they can’t sweat.

But despite all the really cool things about rats, we know most people don’t want to see them in their homes – especially if they’re not pets! A rat can squeeze through a hole the size of a quarter, so it’s important to closely check your home if you happen upon one of the wild rodents inside. Or simply call an expert like us.

We’ll exclude all visible entry points and seal your roof vents with our proprietary covers. We then eliminate the rats or mice already in your home and set up hidden bait stations around the outside perimeter to minimize the potential intruders.

Or you can take it one step further and get our Thermal Acoustical Pest Control (TAP). It keeps insects as well as rodents out, helps soundproof your home, and is a high efficiency insulation that is not only more effective than the pink stuff, but far less dangerous for your family.  Give us a call and we can help you figure out which program is best for you!

Don’t Play With the Bats!

Don't Play with BatsIt’s the time of year when we start thinking of Halloween and all that entails: trick or treating, witches, black cats, and of course, vampires that turn into bats. Actually, funny story – did you know that in Bram Stoker’s novel, the most famous (or is that infamous?) vampire, Dracula, is never seen turning into a bat? It’s hinted at, but he actually is more likely to turn into a wolf! How’s that for a monster mash?

We know in real life that bats aren’t evil bloodsuckers; they’re cute little nocturnal mammals. But that doesn’t mean they’re all loveable and fun to play with, either!

Bat Scratch Fever

…which some high school kids in Utah found out the hard way. More than 40 kids at two high schools in the Salt Lake City area had to be treated for rabies after a student was scratched by a bat.

Both schools are on the bats migratory path, about 20 miles apart. And while only one person at one school was positively scratched by a bat, the second school discovered a massive bat colony in the attic after getting reports that students were carrying the bats around.

Because rabies is not easily identified in bats by sight, every student who came into contact with the bats was forced to undergo 2-weeks of 5-shots, because once the symptoms appear in humans, it’s almost always fatal.

Don’t Be Afraid

The good news is, while there is always a chance of stumbling over a rabid bat, most bats generally keep to themselves, and, as you might imagine, mostly come out at night. In fact, in Utah, just as here in Florida, it’s illegal to disturb the bats because they are a protected species (as in, just this side of endangered). And except for the rare case of rabies, none of the 13 species found in Florida are interested in biting you.

In fact, their status is one of the reasons we’ve made bats our pest of the month for October. Luckily, October is in the ‘off-season’ for bat mating. That means we can do what we call exclusion. We safely relocate the bats from your home or business to happier locales.

If it were earlier in the year, we are not as able to assist. April 15 to August 15 is bat maternity season, and because of their protected status, even the highly-trained professionals on our Good News Pest Solutions team can’t touch them. So we recommend checking before it’s too late – in between searching for your annual receipts, for example – or giving us a call in September.

But Seriously…

If you do find one or more bats in your attic or office space in Bradenton or Port Charlotte, just call us. Don’t try to touch it or move it on your own. Even if they aren’t going to bite you, they’re not going to be thrilled at being poked at, and again, it is against the law. We’ll find the bat a safer place to live and you can focus on deciding which one of those fun size candy bars you’re going to give out!

How Do Bugs Think: A Guest Editorial

How to Think Like a BugSo, the nice folks at Good News Pest Solutions asked me if I’d be willing to talk to you about what it’s really like to be a bug. So I thought about it and I figured, with all the misinformation and fake news out there about me and my insect brothers and sisters, why not tell people the truth for once. Let them hear it from the horsefly’s mouth, as it were. And these guys aren’t like a lot of the other pest control guys out there. I mean, instead of dousing or baiting me with nasty chemicals that are as dangerous for you as they are for me, they were nice enough to use natural means. It still got rid of me, but I figured they’d at least print the truth as I see it. So here goes.

First things first, we are not as bad as we’ve been made out to be. We just want to live in harmony with you, share your homes, your yards! With that in mind, in the spirit of cooperation, here are a few suggestions to make both our lives easier…

So, About That Trash…

It smells SO good, don’t you think? Why else would you leave it out to mold and rot than to set free that delicious aroma?! Now some of you don’t leave your trash for us to smell and feed off of. Why wouldn’t you do that? I mean, you don’t want it anymore! Yes, we know what the word trash means, and frankly, if you’re not using it, why not let us enjoy it?

Oh, and one more thing. There are a few of you out there – you know who you are – who wash the smell right out of those cans, sometimes even with bleach! That’s really not very nice, and we’d really appreciate it if you could do us all a favor and let it linger. Thanks so much!

A Little Food For Thought

And while we’re on the subject, what’s the deal with washing your dishes as soon as you’ve used them? Don’t you know how much good flavor there is, even in the dregs. We’re little guys, we don’t eat that much; is it too much to ask you give us a day or two to wipe your plates for you?

It’s really a time saver, if you think about it. Yes, we see you rinsing the plates and bowls before you put them in the dishwasher – honestly, we don’t get it, isn’t the whole point of having a dishwasher that it washes the dishes? Your language doesn’t always make sense to us, but if you need someone to sponge off the excess food, we’re here to help!

Don’t Forget Your Pets!

We love your furry friends – and not just the ones who let us hang out in their cozy coats. But we’ve noticed that a lot of you only feed them once or twice a day! We always thought you guys considered dogs and cats members of your family. But it must not be true. You and your kids get to pillage that vast cold box whenever you like, so why not leave food and water out for your four legged children too? Sure we’ll munch on a little ourselves, but we’ve had a mutual-aid agreement deal with the animal kingdom even longer than you have!

Things Are Looking Up

On another note, we’d like to thank you for making sure we always have a way to get into the house. We get why you lock your doors, but we’re not going to steal your valuables and we appreciate all the vents, and gaps in your seals, the eaves access. It’s really helpful and we like knowing the attic is always open for us. Our good friends the rats and mice enjoy it too.

Now, we have heard that some of you have started to add more insulation and sealing everything in your attics up. Sure, we all want to save some electricity, but really, is the savings really worth risking our lives? Aren’t we worth a little extra consideration?

Outside’s Nice Too

Okay, if we have to, we can live outside too. It’s kind of like camping! If we can make one simple, small request, though… We love plants and everything about them. You do too! Lots of vegetation gives us plenty of organic snacks, dry leaves to snuggle down into, and lets us feel like we’re practically in the house.

Which reminds me, make sure those plants go right up against your house. We promise we’ll try really hard to avoid the temptation of sneaking into your house. Honest! You can trust me.

Oh, and if it’s not too much trouble, a little water is always nice. We don’t need a bowl of our own, or even a steady stream. Most of you have leaky faucets and broken sprinkler heads. All we ask is that you don’t fix them so we can continue to enjoy the much needed moisture. Besides, you’re already paying for it, and really, what’s the true value of maintaining our newly established symbiotic relationship?

Thanks again for taking the time to learn what we’re really all about. And thanks to Good News Pest Solutions for offering this forum. If you really must be rid of us, give them a call.

Learn More About Altriset®
Read Our Reviews on Angie's List
Sarasota County Green Business Partnership
C12 Group®
Certified Pest Control Operators Association of Florida
Sarasota Chamber of Commerce - 2015 Silver Honoree